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How to Help a Senior Loved One Make Financial Decisions After a Loss

Photo via Pixabay

Losing a partner or spouse is devastating, and many seniors who face this life-changing event are left not only with their grief but also with difficult decisions about their finances. Looking into the future after a loss can be scary, especially if the loved one who passed typically handled the household finances; the person left behind may be worried about how to handle their budget with only one income, or how to ensure that they can stay comfortable throughout their post-retirement years. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your loved one make sure their finances are in good shape, which will alleviate some of their stress.

It’s important to remember that big decisions, such as selling your home, should be considered carefully. Your loved one may be eager to put the past behind them and move forward in order to start healing, but it may not be a great time to put a house on the market, or they may not be financially prepared to make repairs and updates to the home to get it ready to sell. Help your loved one take stock of all the details before they move forward.

Here is a brief guide for helping a loved one make financial decisions after losing a spouse.

Focus on Care Options

Now is a good time to decide whether your loved one will need some type of long-term care. Some options to consider are assisted living, memory care, and independent living. Each one represents a different level of care; for example, if your loved one chooses an independent living community, they will live in a smaller space, can socialize with other seniors, and have access to a range of amenities like meal plans, fitness classes, and concierge services. Additionally, your loved one will no longer need to stress over maintaining their household, as many facilities offer services for laundry, housekeeping, and other tasks. Costs can vary depending on the facility you choose. Consider touring a few facilities to discover their amenities and specific costs.

Make Sure They Have Health Coverage

One of the most challenging aspects of getting older is finding the right health care. As beneficial as Medicare is, it can be difficult for seniors to keep track of deadlines, important dates for changes, and copayments. Talk to your loved one about signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, which will help cover things like dentist visits and eye exams. These plans are offered by private companies and help many older adults pay for care that isn’t covered by Plans A or B.


One of the best things you can do to help your senior loved one is to help with downsizing. While moving to a smaller home can be beneficial in many ways — including saving money and added safety — selling a home is a huge process that often requires spending quite a bit of money. Research home prices in your area to determine the amount your home is worth (there are websites that can assist you with this part) and estimate how much your senior loved one may be able to earn from selling their home.

Downsizing is also time-consuming, as your loved one will need to go through all their belongings and make decisions about what to keep in their new, smaller home. Once they have decided to downsize their belongings, make sure they understand the pros and cons of this decision and help them get organized to make the job a little easier.

Before selling, it’s always a good idea to connect with an expert realtor. A knowledgeable and skilled agent can remove the stress out of selling your loved one’s home by marketing the home effectively to sell it for the highest price.

Work on a Budget

Setting a budget is essential for a senior who has recently lost their partner. Even if they have savings, they may need to use some of that for funeral arrangements, moving, or for daily living, especially if their spouse was the only one with an income. So, talk to your loved one about how they can set a budget and stick to it. This might include anything from rethinking the way they shop for groceries to selling a vehicle they don’t need.

Talk About Life Insurance

If your loved one’s spouse had life insurance, it can not only help pay for their final arrangements, but it can also help with medical bills or other outstanding debts. Make sure your loved one understands all the ways they can use the payout, and start a conversation about whether they have their own policy. It’s not always an easy talk to have, but it will be beneficial for both of you, allowing for peace of mind during a difficult time.

Helping a senior loved one make financial decisions after losing their spouse can be tricky as well as emotional. However, it’s essential to make sure they don’t jump into anything right away. Whenever possible, put off major decisions until they’ve worked through the worst of their grief in order to minimize stress and anxiety. By taking steps to help them stay financially sound, you’ll be giving them the ability to ensure their quality of life going forward

Tips for Downsizing Seniors on What to Do with Their Old Home

By Jim Vogel

Whether your home raised multiple generations or just one, deciding what to do with it in the midst of a downsize is tough. Do you sell it off?  Pad your retirement by renting it? Or pass it along to a family member? We sorted out the big details so you can find your direction and start moving forward.

Examine Finances

Any time you’re making a real estate transaction, it makes sense to have all your financial ducks in a row. Whether you’re selling your house, renting it out, or planning to give it to a family member, you should start out with a solid understanding of how much it’s worth. Before you go too far, get an estimate of what your home might be worth on today’s market.

Also take a hard look at figures like your monthly income and how much you plan to spend on your next home. If you’re selling and can purchase a house outright, that’s wonderful, but if you need to budget for a mortgage, you’ll want to tally what you can afford to spend on the next property (homes in West Palm Beach averaged $253,000 in the last month).

Also consider the expenses associated with properties you’re considering. You can price insurance with Atlantis Insurance instantly, and you can easily get an idea of how much utilities will run with an online search. You don’t want to get in over your head, and just because a house is smaller, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be inexpensive.

To Market, to Market

Selling a house is a common choice for those in the midst of downsizing. If your home is paid for, it’s a chance to potentially purchase the next property with cash. It could impact your financial picture in other ways as well, like padding your nest egg or paying off debts. Or perhaps you always dreamt of purchasing a vacation home, and now’s your chance. Whatever your motivation, selling is a solid choice, but there are a few considerations. 

There is a lot of work involved in getting a house ready for the real estate market, and sometimes there is a bit of expense if you need to make many renovations or hire a professional stager. In the end, if you’re careful with your numbers, you can turn a decent profit by your downsize.

For Rent

Selling isn’t the only way to make money on your abode. Some seniors elect to rent out their property, either as a short-term or long-term rental. While it’s appealing to hang onto your asset and make money from it at the same time, be forewarned, a lot of work goes into either of these options.

GuestReady points out vacation rentals can be quite the responsibility, since you need to keep up with all the usual maintenance and financial obligations like taxes and utilities, and on top of that, you need to advertise, manage bookings, and clean up after guests.

Similarly, becoming a landlord can be pretty involved. You still have the same financial and maintenance concerns, and on top of that, you need to worry about things like advertising and bad tenants.

For many seniors considering this option, hiring a property manager can be a smart choice, although it’s one more expense to figure into your budget. If you go that route, find someone close by with a proven track record, and check references for best results.

Family Fun

Sometimes seniors like the idea of giving the home to family members. There is nothing wrong with this option; however, LawDepot notes there are a number of tax and legal considerations involved. If you would like to see your family homestead raising future generations, or if you simply have a loved one in need of a roof overhead, be sure to discuss particulars with an attorney.

Seniors have a lot to think about when they are downsizing, and one of their biggest decisions is often the old homestead’s fate. Sell, rent, or give it away, there is much to consider. Crunch some numbers and think about what will be best for you in the long run, and you’ll find your answer.

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